The Story Behind How Boston Gets Its Annual Christmas Tree
The history of Nova Scotia's Christmas tree that is given each year to the people of Boston holds a perfect holiday message.
On December 6, 1917, two ships collided – one a munitions ship in Halifax Harbor, causing a catastrophic explosion that killed nearly 2,000 people and left hundreds critically injured and homeless.
Almost immediately, doctors, nurses and helpers from around Boston sent medical and relief supplies to Nova Scotians, our neighbors to the north.
People there never forgot the kindness of Boston, and to say thank you, the province gives Boston the gift of a beautiful Christmas tree every year.
On December 1, a televised Christmas tree lighting in Boston drew a large audience complete with celebrity musicians. This year's tree is a 45-foot white spruce.
The 2.9 kiloton explosion that rocked Halifax harbor was the largest explosion ever recorded to that date. A kiloton is a unit of weight equal to 1,000 tons.
The ships colliding isn't what caused the blast. The collision didn't even cause that much damage to either ship, but caused barrels of fuel on the deck of the Mont Blanc to tip over and douse the deck with liquid benzol which emitted highly flammable vapors.
The Norwegian began to reverse its course, which caused sparks aboard the French cargo ship. The vapors ignited, turning the Mont Blanc into a ticking time bomb.
In 1918, residents in Boston worked to raise $1.9 million (in 2022 dollars) in a matter of hours. A train was loaded with supplies and dispatched the following day.
The Nova Scotians never forgot this act of kindness around Christmas.